at the interface of nanotechnology and life sciences


Project description

We are looking for a graduate or internship student in the area of Applied Physics or Electrical Engineering for an assignment within the EFRO research project “METEORIET”. Here is a link to a popular publication about this project and its partners.

Many micro-scale devices are widely used in today’s high-tech society: microprocessors, integrated electronics, accelerometers and other sensors in for example consumer products such as phones, computers, EV’s or in smart industrial systems such as autonomous vehicles, robots or even in healthcare. The manufacturing of these so-called MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems) requires many fabrication steps in a cleanroom environment, each of which adds to the physical structure and thus functionality of the dies (die = individual chips on a silicon wafer, see Figure 1). This also includes errors/defects and hence variations in each die from its nominal geometry or material properties.

Figure 1 A wafer with MEMS dies during production

Within the “Meteoriet” project, the project partners develop MEMS test & inspection technologies so that their fabrication can be scaled up in a cost-effective and environment friendly way.

The prospective candidate will be working on the research and development of thermal inspection during MEMS production. It is known that Silicon, the main material used in MEMS devices, is transparent for the near-infrared which allows us to use non-invasive “see-through” thermal imaging as an inspection method. The main idea is to look at the thermal profiles of MEMS dies when excited with an electrical signal and draw conclusions about their functioning. Our previous work with FEM-simulated thermal profiles, see Figure 2, has revealed a possibility of determining the positions and the alignment of various structures that are otherwise hidden by fitting and analysing the thermal profile. The question is whether the same applies to thermal profiles of real devices under excitation.

The current tasks are to optimise and then use our thermal MEMS inspection experimental setup already built in previous work. Gathering IR images of MEMS dies under excitation and then analysing the images for known defects, flaws and material properties is the next step.
As the production quantities of MEMS/NEMS products increases – for example due to societal challenges in the area of healthcare – companies will need reliable and accurate production testing and processing techniques. Your contribution in the early development of such technology will be thus of essential importance in the future.

Figure 2 Simulated temperature profile of MEMS device under excitation on the upper left and a piece-wise fit of the 1st derivative of the data on the lower left. The transition points correspond to where structures are located and are shown on the right when mapped across the whole image line-by-line. Although not clearly visible as such on the thermal signature, the position and geometry of the structures could still be extracted.

What tasks do we expect from the candidate to encounter during the project?

  • Understand the operational principle of the MEMS Devices Under Test (DUT)
  • Understand the FEM (Comsol) models of the devices
  • Understand the operating principles of and use our IR camera and optics in well-thought out experiments
  • Generate code to analyze the imaging data and evaluate its accuracy

Depending on the study direction, background (University or University of Applied Sciences) as well as the nature of the stay (internship or graduation) there are different levels of depth that can be achieved in the above tasks. These are to be discussed with the student’s study advisor before the beginning of the project so as to fit any requirements.

Study directions: Applied Physics, Electrical Engineering,

The student will be working within the “Meteoriet” project and have regular meetings with the project partners. The assignment will be carried out at the Saxion Research Group Applied Nanotechnology in Enschede (NL) and will be supported by the Dutch Space Organisation SRON. 

Are you interested? Send a mail to Aleksandar Andreski at Saxion